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Where to find Minnesota's iconic music murals and public art

A mural of songwriter Bob Dylan by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra is on display in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 15, 2016 (STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
A mural of songwriter Bob Dylan by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra is on display in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 15, 2016 (STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images

by Lydia Moran

July 18, 2022

Muralists and public artists understand that when something towers above, it is a basic psychological response to stand in awe and wonder. In Minnesota, several of these creations provide larger-than-life tributes to some of the state’s most iconic figures and music communities.

In the mood to take a tour? Here you'll find everything from technicolor Dylan to “Gaspard de la nuit” in black and white, and maybe even some fellow gawkers.

The Times They Are A-Changin' — 5th Street and Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis

Bob Dylan's face bends time and space on the corner of 5th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis (pictured above). Completion of this five-story work was managed by Hennepin Theater Trust, in part to act as a glue for the downtown cultural district. "This took a blank wall and has now made it into a picturesque place for people to gather, to talk," President and CEO Tom Hoch told MPR when the project was completed after only two weeks of work in 2015. The Brazilian muralist and "street art king" Eduardo Kobra has lit up cities around the world with portraits of legends from Amy Winehouse, Tupac, and David Bowie in vibrant colors and patterns that are visible from blocks away. Dylan's infamous and brief residency in Minneapolis took place across the river in Dinkytown. Still, according to the Hennepin Theater Trust, his brother once owned the Orpheum Theatre on the Avenue, and Dylan played to a sold-out crowd there three nights in a row in 2014. 

Music Wall — 94 S 10th St., Minneapolis

Music mural
A cyclist rides past a mural on the side of the old Schmitt Music building in Minneapolis, Minn. Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

What was once only an eccentric accessory to the Schmitt Music headquarters in downtown Minneapolis became iconic when photographer Robert Whitman captured Prince standing before it on the precipice of his stardom. The photo was taken only a few years after "Music Wall's" paint dried and has since become a popular selfie spot for Prince (and Lizzo) fans. In early 2021, the Star Tribune reported construction plans for an office tower were in the works potentially to block the original vantage point. Curious about the score itself? It's an excerpt from French composer Maurice Ravel's 1908 piano composition “Gaspard de la nuit.”

Purple Raindrop — Farview Park, Minneapolis

Purple Raindrop
Moran, Lydia

Artist Esther Osayande debuted her 15-foot tall raindrop located in North Minneapolis's Farview Park in late 2018. The work, titled "Purple Raindrop," is even coated with a shade of paint formally deemed "Purple Reign" to honor the Purple One himself. Osayande constructed the sculpture at Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center in South Minneapolis after being selected by a panel of Northside residents and city staff to design a work that honored the area's community. The sculpture is also part of a continuing effort along 26th Avenue to increase access to the Mississippi River from the Northside.

Welcome to North Minneapolis — 328 W. Broadway Ave., Minneapolis

Minneapolis mural
Mural of singer Billie Holiday painted by Charles Caldwell on the side of the Fourth Street Saloon in north Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel

Westbound travelers crossing the Broadway Avenue over I-94 bridge instantly know where they are thanks to Charles Caldwell's "Welcome to North Minneapolis" mural — captured on two stories of the 4th Street Saloon. Billie Holiday belts as other jazz musicians play in a misty, sparkling downtown skyline. "This is my gift back to the community that has been so good and nurturing and inspiring to me as an artist … I want people to know that North Minneapolis is a great community," Caldwell said at a dedication event for the work, which is officially titled "Can You Hear Me Now." Caldwell had lived in the area for more than 40 years at the mural's completion in 2011.

Crown Our Prince mural — First Avenue and 8th Street, Minneapolis

Prince Mural Block Party
People photograph the 100-foot Prince mural at the Purple Block Party on Thursday, June 2, 2022. The event marked the official unveiling the mural dedicated to the hometown icon and musician.
Tim Evans for MPR News

Of course, a tour through the Twin Cities' music mural landscape wouldn't be complete without the latest towering edition on a wall at the corner of First Avenue and 8th Street in downtown Minneapolis facing the venue. Artist Hiero Veiga and the team depict Prince in three phases of his career. A young Prince with quaffed hair clutches a golden love symbol guitar; Prince rips on the guitar with boa and shaggy hair; and below that, a more relaxed-looking star gazes at passersby with his chin on hand and a halo-like glow emanating from his afro. "He understood that the mural needed to inspire and represent all walks of life," project manager Sharon Smith-Akinsanya told MPR News when the mural was completed in early June. "We wanted to make sure that we have a muralist who understands that all types of people from all races, from all backgrounds, will be walking past this mural, and it was important for them to … be inspired and believe that they could be anything they wanted to be."

Prince's star on the wall of First Avenue
Prince's star on the wall of First Avenue, shortly after artist Peyton covered it in gold leaf.
Jay Gabler/MPR

Additional walls painted with Prince tributes include: First Avenue’s stars, featuring a gold one for Prince by Peyton Scott Russell (701 N First Ave., Minneapolis); a mural on the side of the North Loop location of Floyd’s 99 Barbershop (424 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis); a mural at Chanhassen Cinema (570 Market St., Chanhassen), a mural in Uptown (2601 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis); and a tribute mural in Henderson, not far from where scenes from Purple Rain were filmed (522 Hwy 19 Blvd, Henderson).  

Here are a few others worth checking out:

Sidewalk Harp — Be the Match, 500 N 5th St., Minneapolis

Sing a Song of Uptown — 1422 W Lake St., Minneapolis

Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan) — 1301 4th Street SE, Minneapolis

Jimi Hendrix Mural — 908 West Lake St., Minneapolis

KROC Radio Mural — 122 4th St. SW, Rochester

Marshall's Music — 326 West Main St., Marshall

Bandshell Mural — Park Road, Sauk Centre

A collage featuring outdoor concert, pow wow, baseball, state fair
Minneapolis artist Andrés Guzmán created three original pieces of 89 Days of Summer artwork.
Andrés Guzmán for MPR

This feature is part of The Current’s 89 Days of Summer series, helping you enjoy the best of the season with weekly guides to events, entertainment, and recreation in the Twin Cities.